Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy Spring!!!!

YES!! I can not express my excitement more than finding these crocus' in my yard!! I love them and purple is my favorite color. I love what they symbolize, the coming of spring! I am counting the days and watching the thermometer go up. I can't wait to garden, and I can't wait for the fresh tasty produce that is coming.

These poor flowers are in the strangest location in my yard I would have never known that they were here but we found them today cleaning up the limbs that feel from the trees over the winter! It is delightful. I hope to get some bulbs in the ground where we can actually enjoy them next year!!! Enjoy all what a beautiful sight!!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More clean eating... with The Eat Clean Diet

I have recently came across a series of books called The Eat Clean Diet. Tosca Reno the author has quite a few books now, Eat Clean Diet, Eat Clean Diet Cookbook, The Eat Clean Diet for families and kids you get the idea. These books are not vegetarian by any means but have a great variety of recipes and great nutritional information in the original book and great tips. She is one that has lost a lot of weight and I so admire that especially when you become a swimsuit model. (I know that is not in my future, unless I am portraying an alien with road maps for a stomach, nonetheless my health feels great)

I have tried several of her recipes and they have turned out great so far. The tomato soup I have made a few times and is not just tomatoes, but celery, carrots, sweet potato, basil, oregano and once you put it all through the blender yum.....

So last night I made the healthful mac and cheese, I made everyone leave the kitchen because I knew if they saw what went in it they wouldn't even try it. Starts out the night before, by straining plain, non sweetened yogurt with a cheese cloth (over a bowl of course) I was amazed at how thick it came out. Mashed sweet potato, olive oil, a bit of flour and a bit of Parmesan and seasonings. The kids loved it! Even my son that refuses to eat sweet potatoes or yogurt!! It went in 3 of 4 lunch boxes today so I guess it was a hit! Served of course over whole wheat noodles..

I wish I had a photo as it was definitely worth one but it just disappeared to quickly! And I doubled the recipe! check it out for yourself. She even has some recipes on her website, linked above. I love when I make something new and everyone in the house loves it!!!

** not affiliated(although it would be nice) just a happy customer!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sewing project #2

This is project bag number two. I have done more sewing in the past few days than I have in a long time. I am clearing up my table for a few days and getting back to the books. It was MUCH quicker the second time around!!! This one is for me!

Here's the inside of the bag.... The fabrics were fat quarters, I want more! They only had fat quarters though...

Knitting projects coming soon! I am amazed at how much I have accomplished in the past few weeks, in projects especially with how busy I have been with the kids and school. It is GREAT to be so productive and the weather is warming up and I can see my compost pile again. I bought a bin I will put up this year, I love the sunshine and warmer days!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My first REAL sewing project

I can't express how excited I am that I have completed this bag! I have been a beyond beggining sewer for as long as I have owned a sewing machine, today I ventured out to make this cute little knitting tote for my daughter! She's 8 and picked the fabrics herself. Cheeta on the inside and birds on the out! This is the first time that I have sewn anything that was any other shape than a basic rectangle and it looks pretty good. I learned a few things about the project and now I can make my own without to much of a hitch! She's gone to bed so she won't see it complete until the morning!
Inside the bag has a small pocket for your pattern, counter or markers, and a divider (complicate to sew but I got it) in the center of the bag for knitting two socks at once or two small projects and even yarn feeder loops. Most knitters will understand that last thing.

Questions to My kids???? Yikes!

For better or worse, here's what my kids had to say!!!
1. What is something mom always says to you?
N-clean up
A-Clean up my room
Z- I'm a dork
2.What makes your mom happy?
N-when I clean up
3. What makes mom Sad?
N-Us being bad
A-Daddy going away
4.What makes your mom laugh?
N-funny cat photos
5. What was your Mom like as a child?
N-Little house on the prairie
A-Little house on the prairie
Z-How should I know!
6. How Old is mom?
Z- over 40
7. How tall is your Mom?
N-don't know
A-a bit taller than me
Z-almost as short as me
8. What is your mom's favorite thing to do?
N-cook, wait knit
9. What does your mom do when you are not around?
A-I don't know I am not there
Z-How should I know
10. If your mom becomes famous what would it be for?
N- because she's rich
Z-she's already been famous for loosing weight
11. What is your mom good at?
N-wii fit
A-scrapbooking and knitting
12. What is your mom not good at?
N-video games (obviously wii fit doesn't count)
A-cutting down trees
Z-video games
13. What does your mom do for her job?
A- you don't have a job do you?
Z- doesn't have a job ( I wonder what would happen if I quit my job!)
14. What's your mom's favorite foods?
N-don't know
A- fruits and veggies
Z- don't know
15. What makes you proud of your mom?
N-when she gets me something
A- she knits good stuff
Z not sure
16. If your mom were a cartoon character who would she be?
N-Jerry from Tom and Jerry
A-wonder woman
Z-herself only in ink
17. How are you and your mom the same?
N-we both play wii fit
A-we like to knit and scrapbook
Z-we both like food
18. How are you and your mom different?
N-I am a boy, she's a girl
A-I like meat and she doesn't
Z-she knits I don't. we are opposite genders
19. How do you know your mom loves you?
N-I'm her son
A-because she does and she hugs and kisses me
Z-she says it
20. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
N- the mall
A-to the mall (funny thing is I haven't been to a real mall in months, I do like to shop though)
Z-away from us (sigh)

Mom of a Teenager!!!!

Yikes, it happened. I am a bit late in post this, but yes I became the Mom of a teenager. It's official Zach turned 13!!! Where does the time go? Seems just yesterday I was in high school and how did I become the mom of three kids!!! This photo symbolizes the onset of a new era, as Zach blew out the candles he must have sucked in a new attitude too! Maybe it's my fault because we didn't have enough birthday candles so I put Hanukkah candles on his birthday cake! (Don't tell he's not the first one to get them, up cycling you know)

On a serious note, Zach is a great kid. Smart as they come, lucky in that it all comes very easy to him. Photographic memory and all. He is caring and kind to others (siblings don't count) and we are lucky that he stays out of trouble. He loves his fencing, and is a boy scout working on advancements. We love him all the same. I am grateful that he is focused on school and activities and that girls haven't ventured into the mix yet!

Last weekend Zach's school team participated in The Science Olympiad (Olympics for geeks) the team was amazing, and came in 4Th place overall. There are about 15 areas of competition and Zach participated in three. Each event has a team of two kids. Zach first event was sumo bots, the bot is pictured above, the boys came if 1st place, thus they came home with a gold medal!!! Way to go!!!!! Next event was car of tomorrow, a very raw looking car, built under the premise of mag lev trains, he and his partner took 2ND place there! His last event was science crime busters, a written test, and they took 7Th in that competition! It was a lot of hard work building up to the event, and in the end the pay off was big. The kids had a great time and came home with lots of experience and excitement for next year! Hardwork does have it's payoff!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Definition of Organics and more on food

I found this definition of Organics on the Organic Consumers web page-

Definition of "Organics" in the U.S.Effective 21 October 2002, all agricultural farms and products claiming to be organic must be guaranteed by a USDA-approved independent agency to be meeting the following guidelines: Abstain from the application of prohibited materials (including synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and sewage sludge) for 3 years prior to certification and then continually throughout their organic license. Prohibit the use of genetically modified organisms and irradiation. Employ positive soil building, conservation, manure management and crop rotation practices. Provide outdoor access and pasture for livestock. Refrain from antibiotic and hormone use in animals. Sustain animals on 100% organic feed. Avoid contamination during the processing of organic products. Keep records of all operations.

This explains what is 'allowable' for USDA organic certification. It seems pretty cut and dry, however, I just don't think it is quite that simple. Some companies are using other labeling options to get out of the fear factor especially of irradiated foods. There is actually a symbol that will hopefully be placed on all foods that are irradiated in our country. Many countries have outlawed irradiating foods and also genetically modified foods as well. Go team GO! I sure hope that at some point we will follow suit!

It is imperative in our country that we educate consumers on why they are obese and chronically ill, all the time! Foods in a box is not the food we need for healthy living. Our cells need the to syncronize of the myriad of macronutrients, and micronutrients in order to function properly.

In other words, our organic foods can be heat processed, (pasteurized and homogenized) and yes this does alter our foods. It does deactivate the enzymes in our food. The good news is our pancreas can synthesize enzymes needed for digestion and other bodily function. The bad news, without any raw food enzymes in the diet we can really tax our pancreas thus, adding raw foods to the diet is a great way to assure that we will not put this unnecessary stress on ourselves. Sally Fallon says, that enzymes are proteins that are necessary for many bodily functions, but that without proper intake of necessary vitamins and minerals these process' do not function as they should. Consider the orchestra without violins.

On another note some foods have enzyme inhibitors, and cooking and/or sprouting is necessary to deactivate these. Grains, nuts, legumes and seeds, this is why these foods uncooked can be hard for some to digest. We all have to find a balance between our cooked food and our raw foods. Cooking is not all bad, it can also kill unwanted toxins from foods and activate some nutrients. I think balance is the key. A plant based diet is necessary for optimum health and these foods should be eaten, as we recognize them not so altered that we have to guess what we are eating!

Again choosing raw, cooked, vegetarian, omnivorous is up to each individual to figure out on their own. We are all biochemically different and have to acknowledge and sometimes find what works for our own bodies. I can say that choosing a wide variety of whole organic foods is a great start to better health and more energy. Research has shown that organic foods are more rich in the nutrients we need for life. Many foods have been stored on shelves, trucked across country and sprayed with a myriad of toxins or even irradiated to ward of bacteria and extend shelf life. Be an aware and smart consumer, care about your body and what you put in it. I am certain that will live richer and healthier lives because of it!

Sources: Sally Fallon- Nourishing Traditions George Mateljan- Worlds Healthiest Foods Textbook and Natural Medicine

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Research, Research, Research....

The past few weeks have been extremely busy. Between family, school and self it seems there hasn't been much time for anything else. I finished two very time consuming research papers, one on milk and the other on sugar. I have been asked a few times to share more details about what I am learning. I will touch on it now along with some of my own thoughts and feelings.

Before I get into the actual topics, I have to say how much I am loving working on my degree. The school (Hawthorn) is so open and I can have the ability to flex my mind. I guess that is what I like so much about learning nutrition in general. There is no cut and dry answers when it comes to nutrition.

My research topics, Milk and Sugar, are two topics(among many in the field) that can cause great controversy. These were the focus of both of my research papers, sharing two sides of the same coin. In my papers, I did not have to express my own opinion for much for the principal behind my nutrition education is Biochemical Individuality, each person is different and all people do not react to foods the same. In all reality, I knew much of what I reported about in both papers. Sugar, corn syrup, artificial sweeteners was the topic of paper number one. It is a passionate subject, and the details, stories, and research available is astounding. Getting the facts on paper with proper citation was an amazing way to validate what I knew was/is my own strong natured opinions. The fact that Americans are consuming more and more sweeteners everyday. I was astounded the read that Americans are actually taking in less sugar yearly than before, but before you get too excited the rise of use of high fructose corn syrup, has increased substantially! It is in MOST processed foods on the market. How does this effect us?

The over consumption of sugar, and it's counterparts leads to health problems such as, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Sugar comes in many forms, all broken down in the body to produce the energy necessary for the body to function. Don't go running off for cake and cookies yet! There are sugars that react in your body differently simple sugars such as table sugar, and refined flour are quickly absorbed and provide little nutrition. What happens next? Well these sugars quickly get absorbed into the body and then raise the blood sugar, shortly after glucose levels will drop again. Most people will grab for something sweet like candy or juice to bring sugars back up. This only creates a dangerous cycle! Sticking to whole fruits, fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and legume, and whole grain breads and pastas. For those that may not have trouble with glucose levels other things can happen. Cravings for sweets and carbs- this tends to happen because these sugary foods will satisfy hunger; however, does not give your body the nutritional content it needs to function right down to the cellular level, thus we start to have cravings! We then reach for one more chip, cookies, scoop of ice cream or even another piece of bread from the bread bowl when really we should be reaching for whole foods that provide the nutrients we need in their most natural form. This behavior is definitely dangerous thus look at the medical issues we have in our society.

My other project focused on milk, and the issues that it brings forth. I started with breastfeeding. The benefits of it and the controversy surrounding such a natural thing. If you have ever breastfed in a public place you probably know what I mean. As humans some try to set themselves above the rest of mammals however in rearing our young is not much different from what other mammals do, only to most it's 'cute' when cows, and goats do it, you get my drift. After breastfeeding, I went into more debates about milk, pasteurization, homogenization and raw milk. Again, I wont go into great details in this post about that either. I will say that even more evidence has shown me why food and farmers should be as separate as church and state. Sadly this is not the case!

Overall, my findings have drawn me to feel with complete conviction the idea of Biochemical individuality. Each person (or living being really) is different. We may all have to same organs, and basic chemical make-up. We are in fact different in as many ways as we are similar. What is good for one person may certainly may not be good for another! An example is one with lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is not an allergy but an inability to properly digest milk sugar due to a lack of the enzyme necessary to do it, called lactase.

Overall I learned a lot of scientific details of milk and sugars, there are as many types as there are people to consume them. Unfortunately not always for the best. Still take yourself into consideration when choosing foods. Eat at least 80% of your foods for nutritional content and the rest for fun and the taste. Be aware of what your body is telling you after you eat meals and snacks, if you listen you may find some hidden energy you didn't know you had. Food is fuel, which gives life.

****Please note that you should consult a medical professional before making drastic changes to your dietary habits.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Pinewood Derby!

We had a great time with the Pinewood Derby! My tiger cub scouts worked so hard on their cars and the race was a great time. Nikolas' car is the one on the far right, the black and grey one, he wanted a 'bat car' but we didn't find the right decals for him.
This past Thursday night was the Tiger Cub Pinewood Derby! Ariana was so excited to make her own car to race in the sibling race. I am so proud of her, because even though she did not place in the races, she loved her car and the hard work she did on it and just had a good time.
Here's Nikolas getting his award. He got third place for the Tigers. He also didn't care that he was 3rd out of 5, just that he got an award. Actually all the kids got an award or certificate of some sort just for participating. I was proud of all of my Tigers for all the hard work they put into all of their cars! It's great to see 6-7 yr old have so much pride in what they accomplished!